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Making Leaders out of a School's Yearbook Staff

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

The responsibility learned through being on a school’s yearbook staff.

Joon learned that by organizing his class this way, students take responsibility for their work, and experience the freedom to be creative in completing their assignments.

Day two, Making a House a Home, UYB’s Summer 2022 Workshop, provided many practical steps to apply in the classroom. Topics of how to structure the class, how to grade, develop student leadership, promote the yearbook, plus more, were given in detail. This day began with practical to-the-point steps to help advisers get started right away in their class. Joon Kim, shared tips on how to grade a yearbook class. He noted that it can be difficult to grade a yearbook class due to the different amounts of work required for each task. However, Joon has designed a way to fairly grade each student. He informed every student that they needed to earn 100 points each week, starting from week one. Categorizing ranges from completing a spread, organizing a photoshoot, covering an event to assisting classmates in their work. Points vary per task. Joon learned that by organizing his class this way, students take responsibility for their work, and they experience the freedom to be creative in completing their assignments. Joon also described what he referred to as FedEx Days. These were scheduled at least twice a week with students assigned to ‘deliver’ a page spread presentation to their peers. Peer feedback was presented through a Google spreadsheet provided by the teacher. The commentary was then used to critique the page spread and direct the student creator to ways of improving the layout design and story copy.

An important value to Joon was for each student in the school to be represented in the yearbook multiple times, and therefore he organized the yearbook to accomplish this. Students must aim to produce spreads with at least 20 faces in them. He admitted this may get messy, but the goal to have every student represented matches the desire of the targeted market. The school culture has been radically changed because of the yearbooks. Joon and his yearbook staff have produced over the years. They chose to deliberately highlight staff and students that go unnoticed and are marginalized. There was space to honor janitors, cafeteria staff, office staff, and students recognized by teachers for a special reason. A specified place was carved out in the yearbook to highlight this event.

Students with a servant-first mindset put the priority on community building, on helping and serving each other to reach their targeted goals.

On day two, Lucy McHugh spoke on the nature or essence of student leadership. In her years as an instructor, Lucy found that students were eager to be involved and had happiness in their friendships. She shared a special story of a student with a passion for an idea, and who was so excited to complete it, that he went the extra mile to accomplish that idea. Students often want to be leaders or may think they don't have the qualifications to be a leader. It was the teacher's responsibility to guide and develop students into servant leaders. Lucy introduced a servant-leadership model in her classroom to address this need. Students with a servant-first mindset put the priority on community building, on helping and serving each other to reach their targeted goals. There was a unified commitment to grow together in empathy and to draw out everyone’s potential. Advisers help develop this mindset, encouraging students to develop skills, and practice serving each other instead of pushing to be number one. As a reminder, Lucy circles back to the heart of the yearbook: the students who create it, and the students for whom it is created.

Day two ended with a presentation by Sarah Y. Tse on yearbook promotion and sales. Sarah shared an urgent message that yearbook marketing and promotion must begin at the beginning of the school year at registration! The yearbook staff must partner with the school to promote the yearbook widely. Through working with student governent, or ASB, the yearbook can be purchased at a discount along with other school prodcuts such as a graduation cap and gown. A purchase link should also be ready during registration for parents and students to have easy access, along with displaying yearbooks from previous years for viewing and handling. Sarah also encouraged placing flyers strategically around the school in high-trafficked areas and seizing moments such as Parent/Teacher night, sporting events, music concerts, and such to promote the yearbook and display videos of students receiving them. Social media is one very strong asset for promotion. Your student staff is most likely skilled in Instagram, TikTok, and other relevant platforms, and they need to utilize the language of their audience to promote the yearbook. If your school has a weekly newsletter, this is a great option for promotion. There may also be opportunities through mail blast, Wix, Mailchimp, or Constant Content. Use these to your advantage to highlight upcoming events, student heroes, social networks, etc. for promotion, including the use of a QR code for purchase!

A key component of marketing is knowing the audience and planning ways to target them.

Lastly, Sarah discussed different activities to promote the yearbook. A key component of marketing is knowing the audience and planning ways to target them. She urged her audience to look at the multiple activities at the school to see how the yearbook can be promoted at the events. For example, during the winter shopping season, Black Friday sales happen. Why not use the same ideas for yearbook sales? Through working with the school administration, the yearbook staff can offer a Black Friday discount for a limited time. This may appeal directly to parents who are eager to save money, especially during times of recession. Sarah reminded those in attendance that it takes a plan, a strategy to implement the plan, and consistency in applying the plan to promote and sell yearbooks.

Day two provided an abundant amount of practical advice on how to develop your student team, make room for everyone, and promote student leadership. Similar to the first day, I was impressed with the leadership qualities that can be accessed and improved through guiding students in a yearbook class. Being aware of the multitude of work required for a class such as this, it is clear why cultivating empathetic and unified leaders is crucial to its success. We also learned how to structure the classroom, gained suggestions for grading and how to create a positive environment. Overall these tips revealed to me that there is in fact room for everyone who is involved in the yearbook.

I hope this has been of some help. United Yearbook regularly offers workshops and resources on multiple topics, for both new and experienced advisors. To learn more, visit our website at

Contributor: Alexis Anderson is an intern as a brand development managing editor at TSE Worldwide Press. She is a senior at Biola University, studying English with an emphasis in writing, along with a minor in Biblical Studies. Alexis aims to inspire others through her words and character.

Co-editor: Miss Lucy McHugh comes to United Yearbook Printing via a 39-year career in public and private school education. She was a former yearbook adviser at Xavier College Preparatory High School. She earned a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nebraska in 2000. And in 2014 earned a Certificate in Catholic School Leadership from Loyola Marymount University. Lucy taught K-12 Art and was awarded the 2001 Nebraska Art Teacher of the Year, and in 2010 she was awarded Nebraska Elementary Art Teacher of the Year. Most recently Lucy was awarded the 2017 CA High School Art Teacher of the Year.

Co-editor: Donna Ladner obtained a B.A. in Education and a minor in English from California Baptist University, and a M.S. in ESL from USC, Los Angeles. After she married Daniel, their family moved to Indonesia with a non-profit organization and live cross-culturally for 15 years before returning to the U.S in 2012. Donna has been working as a freelance editor and proofreader for TSE Worldwide Press and its subsidiary, United Yearbook since 2015.


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